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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center

Location: Application Technology Research

2009 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The objectives of this cooperative project are to conserve, distribute, and characterize ornamental plant germplasm, and incorporate new or existing technologies for conserving primarily seed and secondarily clonally propagated germplasm for effective utilization in ornamental horticulture.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
The Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center was established in 1999 and since then, it has become a fully operational repository for herbaceous ornamental plants and an integral part of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. The core mission of the OPGC is “to furnish genetic raw materials and associated information to enhance American floricultural productivity to ensure a high-quality supply of herbaceous ornamentals.” To accomplish this mission, priority genera have been identified to most effectively accomplish its mission including Begonia, Coreopsis, Lilium, Phlox, Rudbeckia, and Viola. Three components inherent within the core OPGC mission include; conservation of genetic resources, characterization of those resources, and education and outreach including distribution of OPGC germplasm to appropriate users. Conservation -- The priority genera collection will continue and include representatives of selected priority species within the genera. Priority species will be identified in collaboration with stakeholders including seed companies, commercial nurseries, and genera-specific technical working groups. Species will be collected primarily through donations and collection trips. Characterization -- Collected material must be adequately characterized to ensure that the germplasm captures genera diversity and that the germplasm is used correctly. Characterization will include genetic “fingerprinting” or mapping as well as phenotypic descriptions based on approved descriptor lists. This information will be entered into the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database to increase the accessibility and value of the collection to the industry. Education and Outreach -- Distribution of germplasm to bona fide users will continue to fulfill a need for the industry and establish OPGC as a leading herbaceous ornamental plant repository. By hosting workshops and distributing newsletters, OPGC can educate the industry regarding technologies created, used, and refined through its efforts. OPGC will also maintain its linkage to the industry and professional organizations through participation and memberships in appropriate scientific societies and working groups.

3. Progress Report
This is a congressionally mandated specific cooperative agreement. The mission of the center is to collect, characterize, and distribute germplasm of priority genera in support of the floriculture and nursery industries. A collection trip throughout the southeastern U.S. in October resulted in 65 new accessions for the Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center (OPGC) including 19 Coreopsis, 27 Rudbeckia, and 1 Lilium, genera. In all, 129 accessions were acquired during the year. All clonally-maintained accessions of Begonia and Pelargonium were sent to Agdia, Inc. for virus testing in 2008. Virus test results are being used to prevent the spread of viruses to uninfected plants and clean up infected plants in collaboration with other institutions. Over 300 accessions of wild and hybrid Viola, a priority genus for conservation, are being characterized for flower morphology including area, perimeter, shape, and color. The goal of this research is to link some or all of these characteristics to specific molecular markers, and ultimately determine the wild progenitors of the modern hybrid garden pansy using modern genetic techniques, and will provide a first step toward linking floral traits to those genetic variations. Fourteen Begonia accessions were grown in low and high light to characterize their performance in different light environment. High light was found to influence the quality of two of these accessions, but did not influence plant size, development, or potential cutting number. Begonia accessions are now being evaluated for their response to Pythium ultimum, with the hope of finding exceptionally resistant or susceptible varieties or species for breeding programs. The Center distributed 58 germplasm requests that included 473 order items encompassing 37 genera. The largest community of germplasm users included U.S. state agencies and universities (52% of orders; 30 orders containing 135 items) and U.S. commercial companies (24.1%; 14 orders containing 240 items). The OPGC hosted the USDA Herbaceous Ornamental Crop Germplasm Committee annual meeting. There were 4 peer-reviewed publications resulting from collaborations between the OPGC and other institutions. Five proposals were submitted that would help characterize the OPGC collection for low temperature tolerance, alternative (food) use, and pathogen resistance. These proposals were the result of collaborations with six institutions. Progress of this cooperative project was monitored through weekly phone calls and/or electronic (email) communication, shared participation in industry-related committees, regular and reciprocal site visits, and face-to-face communication on site or at national meetings.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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